Windy Williams Way
This year, the annual Callahan Family vacation was taking place at Sun Rise Lake. Gabby the oldest Callahan sibling insisted on sponsoring the event every year, a tough proposition considering the typical family drama, conflict, fight and other scenes that usually unfolded when the clan gathered. And yet the siblings continued to vacation together every year as one large chaotic family unit.
The present generation of Callahan s were old enough that their children were adults too so the vacations did not require a lot of adult supervision - just adult beverages, mixed in with boating, kayaking, swimming, reminiscing, political debates, and the occasional revived ancient slight that resulted in the inevitable uncomfortable confrontation.
Jayson Callahan – the fourth of the six Callahan siblings - had never been to Sun Rise Lake before, a small vacation spot in the western part of the state. The Callahan's came from an upscale suburb of Boston in eastern Massachusetts where the Callahan patriarch was a successful lawyer and politician. Most of the siblings had stayed in the area although Jayson did some time in the military and oldest brother Crosby now lived in Texas. Crosby came home for the family vacation every year to enjoy New England.
It wasn't until he was getting ready to turn off of the lake's Shore Road that Jayson noticed the final address on the Google directions: 26 Windy Williams Way. He recognized the name but he wondered if it was just a strange coincidence to see it on a street sign at Sun Rise Lake.
Gabby had already arrived with her thirty-year old daughter Maggie and Maggie's three year old daughter April when Jayson pulled his car into the ample dirt lot behind the large brown shingled cottage. Jayson found his sister walking through the cottage with a woman who was showing her the premises.
"Hi Jay," Gabby smiled cheerfully when she saw her brother. "This is Kate, the owner."
"Hello, Kate the owner," Jayson replied, giving the hostess a nod. "I was interested in the name of the road."
"It's really not a road at all," Kate replied. "It's just a small dirt right of way with six cottages on it leading to the lake front."
She was an attractive woman around fifty years in age. She had auburn hair (it may have been colored) with light crows-feet by the corner of her eyes, along with faded freckles and a cheerful smile. Jayson assumed she swam a lot in the lake because she looked to be in terrific physical shape.
"Why do you ask about the road?" Kate asked with genuine interest.
"There was a professional baseball player way back when named Windy Williams," Jayson said. "I thought maybe it was just a coincidence."
"Windy Williams was my grandfather," Kate revealed. "He owned this cottage. They named the road after him."
"Really!?" an impressed Jayson replied. "That's wild!"
"I'm surprised you recognized the name," Kate said. "It's been a long time since he played."
"Jayson is a big baseball buff," Gabby explained. "His house is full of baseball books and he's always researching old time players."
"You probably don't remember the particulars of my grandfather," Kate challenged as she walked them into the living room and handed Gabby the binder prepared for renters with various rules, instructions, suggestions, information and local attractions.
"Sure I do," Jayson smiled.
"Like what?" Kate asked with interest.
Jayson walked with the owner onto the large wrap around screened in front porch overlooking the lake while Gabby went to start unloading her car.
"He was a second baseman with the Philadelphia Athletics," Jayson said.
"Do you know where his nickname came from?" Kate wanted to know.
"He got blown off first base by a gust of wind," Jayson grinned.
Kate nodded, impressed by his knowledge. "I bet you don't know his real name."
"Walter," Jayson replied. "Walter Andrew Williams, Junior."
"That's right!" Kate said with surprise. "How did you know that?"
"I'm well versed in baseball, especially the 1930s and 1940s," Jayson said. "Your grandfather played for the A's for six years between 1931 and 1936. He was with the Giants for a couple of seasons and then finished up with the Braves, retiring in 1942, I believe."
"He got sick," Kate said, staring out at the lake with her arms folded across her chest. Jayson was standing next to her admiring the view (and not just the lake!). "Premature heart disease. He was only thirty-four."
"He played twelve seasons," Jayson said. "That's a pretty good major league run."
"He could have been one of the best stars during the war if he could have kept playing," Kate sighed.
"What'd he do after he retired?" Jayson asked.
"Came back here," Kate said. "He was born in Mt. Griffin up the road although he grew up in the Bronx."
"I think most people assume he was born and raised there," Jayson said.
"He bought this place in the mid-1930s as a getaway spot although he couldn't come in the summer because he was playing ball," Kate explained. "He'd hunt here in the fall. There's an old photograph of him from the late 1930s walking down the road here with a hunting rifle tucked under his arm."
"Not quite a baseball bat," Jayson observed.
"He became the athletic director at Green College down in Greenville," Kate said. "He finally had to retire in the late 1960s because of declining health. He died in 1969 in a nursing home not far from here. He was only sixty."
"I think his career batting average was like .280," Jayson recalled.
".287 in almost 1300 games," Kate clarified proudly. "He had 201 hits in 1939."
"I think that was his best year," Jayson said.
"He hit .336 with 11 home runs and 72 runs batted in and 120 runs scored that season," Kate smiled.
"Wasn't he an all-star?"
"That year," Kate bragged.
"Do you remember him?" Jayson wondered.
"I was only four when he died," Kate said sadly. "I have vague memories, mostly here in this house in the summer. He was thin and frail by then but I still remember his big hands. He had a strong handshake right up to the end."
"I've never met the relative of a big league ball player before," Jayson gushed.
"And you're the first out-of-towner to recognize his name on the street sign," an impressed Kate replied, tossing him a glance. "I've been renting this place for years."
"I'm kind of a self-appointed baseball historian," Jayson said with a shrug. "I love the 1930s and 40s era. It was a different time."
"A magical time, my grandfather would say," Kate smiled.
"And I'm actually going to stay in his summer house!" Jayson said. "This is great!"
"There's a photo of him in an A's uniform on the wall in one of the upstairs bedrooms," Kate told him. "And I think there are still some old clippings in the built in hutch in the living room."
"I'll check them out later," Jayson said with true excitement in his voice.
Kate couldn't help but grin. "Most of Windy's fans are dead," she noted.
Jayson smirked. "Not me! Not yet!"
Kate laughed while looking at him for a few moments, long enough for Jayson to feel subconscious and for a second he wondered if he had a booger hanging out of his nostril.
Noise could be heard outside indicating that other family members were arriving and that intrusion broke the trance between the two.
"Well, I'll get out of the way," Kate said, starting for the door off the front of the porch. "I spend my summers in the cottage next door," she said, motioning to the small modern structure to the right of the large Windy Williams cottage. "Maybe we'll see each other again."
"I hope so!" Jayson couldn't help but reply and that caused her to glance over her shoulder and smile at him.
Jayson watched Kate walk across the grassy knoll along the front of the lake to her attractive cottage, admiring the swing of her hips and the way her hair bounced on her shoulders. It had been a while since Jayson had been so smitten at first sight by another woman having been nursing his wounds since his divorce a few years earlier.
Jayson heard the sounds of a boat engine and he glanced toward the lake to see his brother in law Stan's red and white motor boat heading toward the dock. Stan and Crosby had launched it from the public boat ramp on the other side of the lake and Jayson assumed that his brother Paul was driving Stan's pick up from the ramp to the cottage.
"Hey, J-Man!" Crosby yelled to his brother when Jayson stepped off the porch to help moor the boat.
The cottage came with a canoe, a row boat with a small engine on it, and three wind boards. Paul brought his two kayaks in the back of Stan's truck and they found a couple of inflatable tubes and rafts in the storage area underneath the front porch.
The entire Callahan contingent safely arrived by five o'clock. In addition to Gabby (a lawyer) and Stan (owner of a construction company), Maggie (customer service) and April, Crosby (business executive) and Paul (Engineer), there was kid sister Edie (unemployed) and kid brother Brandon (firefighter) who brought his Paramedic girlfriend Lisa. Gabby and Stan's son Mickey (seasonal worker) and his girlfriend Karen (yoga instructor) were also present, along with Crosby's son Dennis (Advertising Executive in New York) and his wife Nikki (Public Relations) and Crosby's second son Ben (automobile mechanic) and his girlfriend Jade (bartender), both living outside of Dallas for a total of sixteen Callahan vacationers in one house.
Dennis and Nikki pitched a tent in the side yard and Mickey and Karen sectioned off the end wing of the wrap around front porch that had a huge box spring and mattress as their bedroom (with a hung sheet for privacy). Gabby and Stan got the master bedroom while Crosby and Paul shared another room. Maggie and April had one of the back rooms, Ben and Jade another, and Brandon and Lisa claimed the other nice larger room on the opposite end of the house from Gabby and Stan. Edie secured the last remaining room while Jayson was left with the small second floor balcony porch that was barely large enough for a single bed, a bedside table, and a small extra cot but at least it was screened in to keep bugs out.
It was a loud and boisterous bunch. The cousins (Mickey, Dennis, and Ben and their significant others) tended to hang out together along with Maggie although she had her single mother responsibilities. Gabby was the self-appointed matriarch (by default) while Stan, Crosby, and Paul bonded as a trio – boating and fishing. Brandon's mode of operation was to take a series of day trips away from the home base with Lisa so they wouldn't be around all that much and Edie mostly kept to herself in anti-social hibernation.
There was enough past family drama and soap operas to exasperate situations with the large group under one roof. Gabby and Edie had been feuding for years. Edie drank too much and could be rude, selfish, argumentative, and embarrassing. Crosby was a sarcastic prankster who loved to instigate conflict with his belligerent humor. Paul was an introvert who didn't have a lot to say which annoyed the others. Brandon was full of himself and he distanced himself from his older siblings. Dennis was a conceited know-it-all and Nikki was submissive to his arrogance. Jade never smiled and Ben was always smiling. Lisa liked to flirt which drove Brandon crazy.
There was always a powder keg ready to ignite at any moment whenever the Callahan family gathered together. There would be plenty of drinking and smoking (both cigarettes and joints), along with crude language with the F bomb dropped in every other sentence, especially as the drinking increased. Family gripping, teasing, insulting, and posturing would certainly ensue. There would be political debates (Crosby, Paul, Brandon and Stan were "righties" while Gabby was an unabashed liberal and the others leaned to the left) although Jayson tried to avoid conflict by playing mediator and middle man, the family's white sheep having avoided police records and other trouble, cementing his patriotism status having served in the Navy.
Normally, Jayson would get involved with the various vacation activities among the various family members but he found himself glancing toward Kate's cottage, hoping to catch a glimpse of the landlady. He had been thinking about her since the moment he met her, intrigued to be around the granddaughter of the great Windy Williams.
Everybody had settled into the cottage and discovered the game cabinet and the second refrigerator in the back pantry which became the beer and booze cooler. Gabby cooked burgers on the outside grill and most of the group gathered around the fire pit by the lake's edge enjoying the fire Crosby had made. It was still light enough to go out on the lake to watch the sunset but when Jayson saw Kate step out of the front door of her cottage he couldn't resist the urge to meander her way.
"I try to avoid the renters," Kate said when he approached. "If there are any issues, Gabby should text me."
"I thought you'd like my shirt," Jayson stated, pointing to his chest which featured caricatures of Jimmy Foxx, Jimmy Dykes, Mickey Cochrane, Al Simmons, Lefty Grove, and Connie Mack from the 1932 Philadelphia A's.
"My grandfather knew all those guys," Kate smiled.
She was wearing khaki shorts and a white blouse, tied at her stomach. She was barefooted and her hair was pulled back in a short pony tail.
"I have lots of baseball tee shirts and other stuff," Jayson told her.
Kate peered at him for a long moment, chewing on her bottom lip as she considered her options. "I have some of my grandfather's old scrapbooks inside if you want to have a look," she finally said.
Jayson could have kissed her on the spot. "I'd love to," he said, trying not to jump up and down in anticipation like some little kid who had just scored a terrific baseball card.
"Why don't you come in, then?" Kate suggested.